bowlingWhen Frances called last week to see if I would bowl a tournament with him, I said yes. I didn’t ask questions like who was on the team or how much it cost, though i did ask him the location. Cottage Grove. I can do that. I hadn’t looked at my calendar. Now that Neuro Feedback Therapy had run its course, I didn’t think I had anything on the docket.

Turns out that I did have a massage scheduled for that day, but the last couple of massages had only alleviated me from money, and seventy bucks a pop without results was not worth it. Not only did I erase an appointment that was supposed to help my back, but I traded it in for an activity that was guaranteed to aggravate my low back pain. Lately, it doesn’t matter what I do; it’s going to hurt, so I might as well do everything I can and try to push through the pain.

Now that my favorite pain specialist, Lisa Albanese is back in Eugene, I feel like my back is in good hands and she can help me to continue to not act my age, though I’m really not sure what a 55-year-old is supposed to act like, especially a female 55-year-old.

Saturday, the day of the tournament, couldn’t have been planned any better. I could carry on staying in bed late and even have time to leisure lounge about with the dogs since we weren’t bowling until 1 p.m., and the southern drive was only going to take me less than a half an hour.

coverbridgeOver the years that I’ve been bowling, I used to spend a lot more time in Cottage Grove and Roseburg bowling tournaments, but that was a different lifetime ago. Cottage Grove has grown, but it’s still a quaint little town. I wasn’t in a dilly dally kind of mood and didn’t explore the city to compare my mental notes from a few years ago. I can’t always depend upon those mental notes; the ink starts to fade after a while.

Frances thought that I would be a stronger partner than his wife Francis. That I had a better chance of picking up my spares, though it turned out that I would be picking up or attempting to pick up Frances’ spares.

The tournament was using a Baker doubles format. Each person got one ball. If Frances left a ten pin, my nemesis, which he did on several occasions, I had to bowl that second ball in the frame. If he got a strike, I go my chance to blow the rack away in the next frame.

The first round involved six games, which really was only three games, if you count the balls thrown. We had our low games early on, but started to get warmed up. But so did the other teams.

The elimination round came next. Out of 46 pairs, Frances and I finished in eighth. Not bad especially since there were some really good pairings of hotshot bowlers; guys who could rip the cover off the ball as they send their bowling ball down the lanes with a gazillion revolutions compared to my almost slow motion ball. it gets there, and that’s what counts, not how quickly it gets there, though that does play a big factor, but there are some things I have no control over.

I think our first match was against the top seed team. I’m not sure how they figured the brackets out, but the guys we bowled sure acted like they were in  first place and were aiming to stay there as they whooped our butts with a perfect game. I had never seen a 300 shot with two different bowlers. I’ve thrown a 300 with two different balls, but that’s different. it didn’t matter that our two hundred game would have beat many of the 46 teams, but instead we were sent to the losers bracket.

The second game was a nail biter the entire game; came down to the tenth frame. I had to pick up a ten pin and Frances had to get eight pins or better to win by just a few pins. I hadn’t computed this and didn’t know that there was so much pressure riding on that spare. I did miss more ten pins than I converted, but sometimes just that one important spares is worth more than all of the rest combined.

The next game was a game of tough luck. Some strikes would be more like dominoes and be really ugly, and other times the ball would crush the pins and a seven or a ten or some yahoo pin would stand up and proudly give the bowler a raspberry. There’s a lot of trash-talk that goes on between a pin and a bowler. People who watch bowling don’t get to see our faces or read my lips as I am cursing at  the stubbornness of that pin. Again, our score would have beaten plenty of other teams, but it didn’t beat our opponent, so we were three and out.

Even though, I only bowled four and a half games, today I’ve had to take it easy for my back, trying to do as much stretching as possible to work out the kinks. Maybe another round of acupuncture Tuesday will speed the healing process so I can be in less pain when I bowl Friday for league.

Lucy032915As an extra bonus for the weekend, the weather has been so delicious. The dogs were so happy to just hang out with me in the tall grass and watch the clouds go by.

This and That

I may have pointed out that I need a twelve-step program for being such a slob. If I have, it’s worth reminding myself of the process to turn the unwanted behaviors away.

I’ve always been a slob. I could relate to the Peanuts Cartoon character Pigpen; everywhere Pigpen went, a cloud of dirt followed him.

I’ve also probably mentioned who my mom and I had a perfect balanced relationship. I would trash my room and my mom would clean it up while I was at school. Actually, trashing may be too harsh of a word; I just didn’t put anything away. I’m guilty of not putting things away. This really gets Sylvia going, and that’s when I realize I need to work those steps.

How much of my being a slob is connected to the fact that my mom didn’t make be responsible and enabled me to carry on. I’d like to blame the fact that I wasn’t taught how to clean. It was just easier for my mom to do everything. She had gotten tired of fighting battles. As a kid, before she died, I had come to the conclusion that her life hadn’t turned out like she planned. I had the impression that she wanted to go back to school, to do what I’m not sure. She got robbed of the second half of her life.

That’s how I’ve been viewing my recent fifty-fifth birthday. Now that halftime is over, it’s time to get on with life, and I’ve got a lot of making up to do for all the years in the first half I didn’t even bother to show up.

The only two times a house I’ve been living in is immaculate are the first and last day of my residency. When Sylvia and I moved into the dome, which is around twelve, thirteen, or so years ago, Everything but the piano were brand new. The house had never been lived in.

And has it been lived in. Because we had been living in such tight quarters, having one person over maxed out the capacity. To go from eight hundred square feet to roughly three thousand square feet is so freeing,

Downsizing always helps me pitch things that I would normally fight tooth and nail over. When I moved to Eugene from Boston, I started my new quest with what could fit in the car. Granted it was a Plymouth. Plymouth Volarie. Don’t go singing that song now…

I’m using our European trip as a metaphor for my need to downsize. I’ve been holding onto stuff for way too long. The issue that I am tackling is that I have too much stuff to be put away; either there’s not been a place created or I already have enough of those things like elastic bands, twist ties, expired coupons.

rat's nest032515

Luca’s going to flip when she drives down from Portland one of these days and finds not a nary of an expired coupon.

A lot of my problem is the lack of the physical ability to do much of anything. Vacuuming and my back do not getting along, and my back is always getting the last word in. I’m hoping that now that I’ve returned to my favorite pain specialist, a physiatrist, has returned, we can find some pain relief for me. And now that I’m changing my primary physician, and getting out of the OH MY God world where doctors can take as much time as needed with their patients. I am determined to not be old yet; it doesn’t really help when the students I work with usually respond with, “You don’t look that old” when I tell them of my 55 year status. That old. All our attitudes and ideas of what is old is changing. After seven seven years, my dad died, but was awarded the “he lived a good long life.” He did live a good life, but long isn’t a qualifier.

If I can keep my physical body in good shape where I’m still sound mind and body, though most of my family and many friends will wonder I’ve been hiding the sound mind, I’d enjoy seeing a hundred. Since my osteoporosis makes my bones the age of someone who is twenty years older than I, the chronological aging makes me age more like a dog than a human being.

Now, here’s a challenge for myself. Write a blog every day for the next forty-five years. That would be a lot of words. The gauntlet has been thrown down.

Ironies of Life

My goal is to write about irony and life and how their paths cross every so often. Some of you may have noticed that seldom do the titles of my blog match the blog. Sometimes I manage to get a hint of connection or purpose between blog title and perhaps  a sentence or paragraph, but typically there’s no connection between first and last paragraph. What can I say but that I’m just a wanderer at heart. Since I don’t really like leaving my house, tangents are the next best thing, especially when I am writing.

I have always been a self-reflective kind of person and a person that has always felt compelled to write. For a few years I was addicted to letter-writing. I would push myself to get thirty letters/and or postcards written and out in the mail. Email hadn’t been invented, which just sounds so absurd. I worked hard on not having expectations, not my strong suit in this lifetime. Maybe next time I’ll have an easier time around that.

While I was going through my bowling addiction, I started to write postcards of all the exotic places I travelled to.Ever bowl in Drain, Oregon? Did you know that Oregon has a city named Drain. I think its in a perfect location giving Southern Oregon  and the Willamette Valley a drain between them, though today was one of those splendid non-rain days we’ve enjoyed this winter of 2015.


Typically, it rains for so many days that getting housebound is a legitimate concern around here. I think the State of Washington does beat Oregon in the most suicides, but there’s so much to be said for Seasonal Depression. Just the other day I was telling a friend that I wasn’t going to garden this year. She laughed at me.

Bowling. Postcards. Drain. I don’t remember the name of the bowling alley. Might have been Drain Lanes, something original and eye-grabbing. I was in the middle of the house on lane two. The bowling was outrageously hard that it just made me laugh. There are a couple of bowling alleys I know that bowlers don’t enter.

I’ve lost my point. Postcards. For a while it seemed as though I was in a different city every weekend. I planned my “vacations” around bowling tournaments. Travel time. qualifying. Not all tournaments happen on a weekend or even during just a weekend. I lost plenty of tournaments, but I never lost because I was  physically tired. Bowling a hundred games a week, on average, would do that to a person. I was the EverReady of bowling, at least in Eugene, Oregon. From the looks of my competition, plenty of other people had that drive.

There’s a lot of downtime in bowling. Stressful times of waiting for results. Did I make it for the next round or was I hitting the road, which mostly was I-5. Couldn’t drink to alleviate the nerves since I either had to be prepared to compete or begin the two to eight hour drive home.

Postcards were my form of keeping myself distracted. After being with people for too many hours in a day, especially with the volume of noise a tournament creates, I’m ready for a time-out, and seldom does anyone interrupt someone who is writing. Sometimes people would interrupt me just to ask what I was doing as if it were a foreign concept.

I’ve got a lot of leftover postcards that I should start sending out. Hotels and Casinos and restaurants mostly.

There’s so much to be done. I’ve got this demanding my affairs be order before leaving for Europe. Re-viewing my Will, not something I’ve done more than a couple of times has given me a kick in the teeth. I am grateful that this Wake Up call was on the psychological plane rather than Reality.

Great Expectations

My friend Luca, as far as I know, has always been great about putting down a book that she’s not into, and since she’s such a speed reader, she figures this out quickly. We have a mutual friend who’s chronological odometer flipped to 55 first. She told me that in analyzing her life, she came to the conclusion that life’s too short to read bad novels.

The only difference between my two friends is that one referenced books that she couldn’t get into and the other said bad novels.

Great ExpectationsI’ve attempted to read Great Expectation by Charles Dickens several times. It’s a great classic novel. First paragraph draws me in as Pip explains that because of his “infant tongue” he hadn’t the ability to pronounce his own name, Philip Pirrip, and it came out as Pip. It stuck.

Dickens is a creative genius. I’m intrigued at how he developed the little boy’s image of what his parents may look like. Dickens slips in a time reference by saying that the technology of photography had a long time coming. There’s probably no one who can relate with the lad who’s never seen an image of his parents as Master Pip experienced.

Dickens paints the scene by having the reader see Pip at the cemetery looking at the tombstones of his father and his mother. For me, I feel an extra sense of loss for the boy as Pip uses the letters and font on the gravestones to form images. Pip thinks that his dad was a “square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair.” Pip does admit that his idea is unreasonable and odd, but there’s probably a sense of belonging and a sense of family by having a picture. For his mom, the phrase on her tombstone, “Also Georgiana Wife of the Above” caused pip to come to a “childish conclusion” that his mother was “freckled and sickly.” I’m still pondering how he could have come away with that notion, but it just reminds me that not all of our thoughts and opinions are based on logic.

If words could be food, reading Great Expectations is like going to a buffet of exquisite food. Top notch cuisine. Part of my problem in finishing the book is that I want to take the time to involve all of my senses. Dickens could have simply stated that his five little brothers had died, but instead he describes the five little stone Lozenges that are perfectly lined up with his parents.

Dickens’ writing style is refreshing, so eye-opening that I can re-read a passage multiple times and it’s still impactful. When Pip is thinking of his five little brothers “who gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle, —I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of existence.”

great-expectations-pip-characterPerhaps I can combine two goals. I’m trying to get into a routine of writing every day. Maybe if I write about Dickens as I write every day, I can finally finish the book. I sure would enjoy to read comments about your experiences with Great Expectations or with Dickens in General.

I’ve never been involved with a book group. Guess I just figured out how to add another goal with just this one book.

Getting Lost

I grew up in a community where the dentist lived down the street and my sister babysat their kids. There were doctors down the road and around a bit. One doctor even put lights outside to extend our skating time on their pond, Bartel’s Pond. I doubt that it’s still there. Last August I visited my stomping ground. The house was different. The pool gone. Replaced by an extremely green and lush yawn; if they were trying to  avoid the chemicals that come with a pool, they probably didn’t get too far with what it takes to have a golf-course lawn. I shudder when I think of all the chemicals that go into keeping the golf course natural looking. That’ a different soapbox.

Weston, Massachusetts is a small community where everyone knew everyone. But when it comes to doctors and other health professionals, it’s reassuring that your doctor remembers you and helps keep everything in check.

It’s taken a while to develop a trusting relationship with my primary provider, Dr. E. But I can’t see her for a routine physical until the end of August. She’s relieved that she can now have a closed practiced, but she’s still dealing with the backlash of piling on new patients.

It is reassuring that Dr. E. knows me, but I don’t expect her to do the logistics of my health care, and unfortunately I’m starting to let myself slip through the cracks. i used to be rather diligent about routine things.

Seeings as my left kidney is doing all the work, I’ve been paying attention to having regular scans. Did you know that it’s normal to have cysts on your kidney? Every few years I would pop in and see Dr. Bergreen, my urologist, to rub jelly on my belly to make sure the cysts hadn’t changed in size or shape. I’d be kind of down the river without a paddle without it. Actually, I wouldn’t even have the boat. Bergreen retired after a very lengthy service. The next one, a woman, I think Dr. K, but I only saw her once before she moved on. I don’t remember the name of my present doctor, but I know I’m overdue for that scan.

My body is kind of like a game of dominoes. The health of my body that is. Because of having cancer, I had to go through radiation and chemotherapy. Because of the radiation of my abdomen, my ovaries were fried. No over easy on this order. Going through menopause at 28 and probably a bit of genetics, caused my back to become swiss cheese. I don’t remember the entire name of the kind of osteoporosis I have, but it’s not good when the word degenerative is in the title. I miss those two inches I used to have.

To keep from losing any more inches, I have to get a twice yearly shot of Prolia. I tried the pills, the ones that Sally Fields uses, and other manufacturers, but I am so allergic to them, every bone in my body hurts, especially my back. Gravity caused me to cry. But the Prolia was working. That was until my doctor moved away. I don’t even remember what his specialty was; I never saw him; he would just put the order in and his physical assistant would give me the shot.

It’s been over a year since I have had the shot as I failed to chase down a new specialist. Maybe he was an endocrinologist. That’s the name that’s popped into my head. I called my primary physician thinking that she should be able to give it to me at the same time I get the flu shot. Nope. It’s not a license thing. it’s because Prolia is too expensive. It boggles my mind that they couldn’t order it, give it to me, and then bill insurance. But if for some reason I didn’t come to the appointment, they would be out a lot of money. Does this make sense to you?

Tomorrow I’ll be reunited with my physiatrist. I can never remember how to spell the fancy title given to pain specialist. Dr. A. had been my doctor for a while and up and left in the middle of the night. Never got to say goodbye. Nothing. But Bend Oregon didn’t turn out for some reason and Dr. A’s back in a new place, a smaller place called Benson Health Clinic.

After Dr. A. left, I paid the same price to see a pain specialist that’s not a doctor. I like her a lot; the southern bubbly personality is a bit overwhelming, but she’s so sweet.She can’t give me the prolia shot.

But now with Dr. A. back, I’m hoping that she’ll be able to give the shot to me. I’m also considering switching my primary doctor over to this smaller practice and retreat from the grips of OMG. Yes, OMG has many fantastic doctors and health care providers, but I’m under the illusion that there’s someone who will help me keep all of these things organized so I don’t slip through the cracks anymore. I’m not sure if I like what’s going to happen if I have nothing else to hold onto.

Sexism is alive in well in car commercials

Sunday, March 22, 2015
3:43 p.m.

Happy Birthday Kara Ruth Honthumb!

First the music drew my attention. I hadn’t gotten around to muting commercials. I was barely paying attention to the boob tube at all. I lost interest in the men’s college basketball game after just a minute or two of watching. Kansas against someone. Could be Wichita State, but I wasn’t really interested. Technically it looked like it was going to be a great game, but I didn’t want to tarnish the image of the recent Victory that I witnessed as Dayton Flyers game against Kentucky, women’s basketball that is just in case you’re not tracking the Women’s version of March madness. Technically the game was just as good as a men’s basketball game. It wasn’t a low-scoring affair. Both teams were in the 90’s. I am thinking 95-97. Each team were playing their hearts out; there wasn’t going to anything but sweat left on the floor at the end of the game.


I should have known that Ally wore number eleven. That’s my number.

Emotions between a men’s basketball game or a women’s basketball is the exact same. Doesn’t matter what the skill set is. Even if it had been a low-score with poor shot selection, as has been the case in the history of women’s basketball, the emotions are exactly the same. Pumped and ready to fight to win because winning is the only thing that matters. Even when there’s nothing on the line. Women don’t have the pressure of lucrative multi millionaire contracts if you happen to be a tall and gifted athlete. Yes, there are those who will remind me that at least we have professional teams, but that number is in the decline. I will be the first to admit that I’ve not seen a game this season. But I haven’t been watching much television lately, preferring to read and write. I can’t multitask very well. I’m struggling at this moment as I have Cris Williamson playing in the background. I may have to go back to 2Cellos soon to help my poor ADD riddled brain. Squirrel.

Men and women don’t share the same hormones or chromosomes. We don’t have the same height and muscle mass. But both women and men share determination. I have not heard that motivation to work harder than you have ever worked before has a genetic link or something physiological, though I do look forward to whatar could be super baby. Offspring of Garciapara, and please excuse my spelling. Sunday’s are proof free day. I will check facts and spelling another day. The former oustanding shortstop for My Boston Red Sox married Mia Hamm, one of the top female athletes in history. I don’t know how the cherub is doing. Mostly I know Mia has a car commercial, and what’s his face doesn’t. Yet, in her commercial, she is not driving. I think he is.
Now I am all warmed up for my next rant. What can I say. Sometimes this radical feminist had to stand on a box. The box keeps getting taller as the years go.
In today’s commercial, which is the main gist of this blog by the way. I thought I would point that out as I gallavant about. I should post signs when my mind takes a quick ninety degree turn. These are the best in my Mini Cooper.

Yesterday I bagged my limit as I had to point out every single Coop I saw. I had one guy in a BiMart parking lot roll down his Windows so I could compliment him on his 2008 Burgundy Club Man. Would you be extra impressed that I knew it was an ’08 before he told me. I would be very impressed. I know cars almost as well as I know music.


Someday I want a purple Mini Cooper. Just putting this out to the universe…
Car commercial. GMC. Great music pulled me away from what had distracted me from NCAA Men’s Basketball, probably Facebook or something equally important. The commercial shows a male basketball player with perfect delivery hitting nothing but net. The voice over commented on that extra good feeling when a a shot has that swishing sound. I just experienced that last week. The thirty some on primary students in my PE class went crazy, as I did too, at my awesomeness. I notice that when I show the kidletts that I can actually shoot a basket or slap a puck, they tend to be a little more interested in what I have to say.
The commercial, as you can tell, had me hooked. Sports. Great. I can relate, and then the castle made out of sand disintegrated. I don’t know how the journey went from the sweet sound of Swoosh to dividing the boys from the men.
GMC had my entire attention. I may never watch another men’s basketball game again.

Go Oregon State University Women’s basketball. This is one of those rare times when I root for those beavers.osu women basketball

Women’s basketball

I’ve not been attracted to college basketball’s March Madness. Some years are like that. This year, as I look at the sports page list of sports coverage, I feel sucker-punched. Lots of men’s basketball. The only thing The Register-Guard listed was wrap around coverage for women’s basketball. No, I’m not blaming The RG at all; they can only list the major stations.

Yes, I know it’s gotten better. People love to remind me. Hey, at least they let us run the entire floor these days. Doesn’t seem to matter that women’s basketball is just as good as men’s basketball. That wasn’t always the case, but this generation or perhaps last year or so have evolved. You can’t blame the older generations. When you are given second-class provisions and the premise is that the woman’s body can’t handle too much activity. Some of you remember how restricted we were in how much we worked out and how physical we could play or even  having the opportunity to play.

Some of you may not think I’m old, but I’m old enough to be discriminated against playing baseball because I was a girl. The next year, the courts changed it, though it’s taken dozens of years for girls to get more opportunity, and there’s still room for change. Did you know that it’s against the MLB for women to play baseball? We can fight on the front lines, but baseball is too rough for us. I’m so hoping that Mo can continue her trailblazing.

On my way home from a University of Oregon football game where I sell Kettle Korn to earn bowling money, I had been standing in a long and non-moving line to get onto the South Eugene bus. It was cold. The buses were empty and much warmer and comfortable. I was complaining to myself, but loud enough for those around me to hear. This woman and I struck up a conversation. I think we talked about the WLA cadets and how most of them can’t do a push up. I don’t expect older women to know about pushups, but this woman probably could have done a few even at the age of 80 or so.

When we finally got on the bus, she patted the empty half of the school bus. The bus trip cross the Willamette River wasn’t long enough. I don’t remember her name, but it turned out that her name is enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I should have followed her home. She had been a catcher when a woman pitched the first no-hitter. She played all positions during her time on the Women’s Professional teams during the War. Remember the movie, A League of Their Own? Well, here I had a real-life celebrity. Instead of being excited out of my socks, I just carried on a typical conversation. This woman just needs to be named…

I thought that with the internet, I’d be in and out and on my way with name in hand after a handful of searches, but I’m striking out. Did I really think that the list of Baseball players from Eugene, Oregon would  come up with something? Most of the names I read or skimmed through I hadn’t heard of and probably didn’t really make it in MLB. I thought that a history of famous Eugene women would have something. Not only was she a great and gutsy ball player, but she was a instigator at the University of Oregon. Ii think she had a PhD in physical education or recreation and basically developed the Duck program. But do you think I can find her name? My brush with fame experience was two to three years ago.

women's baseballI guess I’m going to have to let go of that quest. Maybe someone who reads this will have better luck than I. She lives in Eugene, but wasn’t from Oregon. I ran through the names of catchers, hoping a name would ring a bell or two. Nothing.

Last year or so, I was going through a reading specialist program and ran across the book about Jackie Mitchell. It was a young adult book. There’s not much written about the woman who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and forgive me if I misspell his name; I should just for spite. Anyway, she had signed a Major League Baseball contract and her minor league team played an exhibition game against the Yankees. The sluggers were  not just letting her look good; they were really mad. JackieMIt caused such a ruckus that the commissioner vetoed her contract and the rule of women not playing baseball went into effect. All over a stupid little white ball. If anyone has ever seen the blood of true athlete, whether male or female, it’s the same color, and it usually is on  that athlete as they are diving and doing whatever they can to win a game.

I’ve often said that I must have been a Kamakazee pilot, and Thank God I don’t know how to spell it, but that’s the best way to describe how I take on sports. I don’t care if I am bleeding, just had a concussion, or might have broken something, just don’t take me out of the game. And what was at stake? Joy. Pride. Success. It didn’t matter if I was playing on a soccer field cross town from the high school because there wasn’t space for us on their field. It didn’t matter that it was at the crack of dawn and I’m on the ice at Cornell Rink getting frostbite because it was snowing in the outdoor rink that we had to use. I was just happy that Ithaca College had a team.women's baseball allymalott allymalott

Dayton Flyers and Ally Malott are giving the Kentucky Wildcats a run for their money. Revenge is a sweet thing for athletics. We don’t forget who beat us. Dayton is a single digit ranked team, but they have never been in the sweet sixteen in the program’s history. Nailing a three-point shot with just twenty-seven seconds. You can’t tell me that this game isn’t worth showing to entire world. What is wrong with our society?

I long to live in a country where gender doesn’t make a difference, where dreams don’t depend on one’s gender.

Past, present, and future, but mostly past

I Really need to revamp my Blog. I don’t like the looks. The categories and whatever hasn’t been changed in a long time. I must be doing something wrong as I’m not attracting any attention. Early on I was, but then almost nothing. If it weren’t for some likes and Bex’s faithful comments, I would think that I was just journaling to myself.

My writing isn’t horrible. Or is it? A friend recently said that another friend said that a recent letter to her was very peculiar. I keep trying. Keep plugging away. Since I have been mostly writing to myself for the last 32 years, I think it’s high-time I shared, especially when I look back at 32 years ago when I began journaling in ernest.

1983 began for me sitting at a very plain and boring desk. Biewend Building was my main post. Midnight to eight. I don’t remember how many times I had to wander around the Boston medical building. Not a soul but me at midnight. I had this key thing that I had to wear detex or something like that. detex keyIt was a clock on a strap. On each floor there were keys, opposite sides of the building, at least that’s how I remember it…I’m amazed that I remembered this gizmo that caused me to have a leather mark on my blue police-immitatiion uniform. It didn’t take me long to really hate that uniform. It also didn’t take me long to realize that many of the guys on the midnight to eight shift, especially those areas of the hospital that people weren’t apt to see them, didn’t wear their entire uniform. Steve Yarborough, or something like that, bless his heart, but he’d wear jeans with his shirt or sneakers and not the uncomfortable uniform shoes. He never got into trouble, but my supervisors were on a keen lookout, trying to catch me doing something  wrong. There had already been one or two women on the “force” and they didn’t want any more, but litigation wasn’t something they wanted to tangle with.

I had already walked off of a lousy security job for Feline’s Basement. I was happy when that Bastard’s business went under, the scum that he was; he had told me that he had only hired me because I was cute. I can’t remember the name of the business, but we had to wear these awful Red Coats; we were the prevention folks, standing near metal detectors. We all knew that people were walking right out the door with goods as they would snip off the metal things in the dressing room. That was the stupidest job I had ever had. When they needed more people during the holiday season, the jerk would pay them at a higher wage and then they would be the first cut. I started talking to people. I didn’t realize I was being a rebel rouser, but I thought a strike around Christmas would really get the boss’s attention. No one could afford to walk off the job especially since it was above minimum wage.

Strange tangent. Now do I go back to the first or the second thread? This is probably where I lose a lot of people since my brain is so scattered. I never know what I’m going to write about until I start to write. It doesn’t help when I write with Piano music in the background. Jim Brickman is playing an amazing rendition of Over the Rainbow.

My security job at New England Medical Center became more of a game than a job. Inside that deter clock, there’s a tape that records when the time is punched. I was told by Steve, as he was my main inside guy, that if you twist the key enough times, the little tape inside has a way of cutting and darn doesn’t record any information for the rest of the day.

For the most part, I was a diligent worker. I went from station to station, twisting that stupid key. For an eight-hour shift, I probably only worked four to five hours. I don’t remember how long it took me to tour the building. While researching an image for the Biewend Building, I found a listing for the sale of these two buildings. Guess Tufts New England Medical Center is needing the cash:

As exclusive sales agent, Grubb & Ellis is pleased to offer 15 Kneeland Street, The Tupper Building, and 260 Tremont Street, The Biewend Building for sale.  Both buildings are 100% leased by Tufts Medical Center and are for sale on an individual basis or as a package.  The Tufts Medical Center campus encompasses approximately 4.35 acres of land area located in Boston’s Chinatown community.  The historic campus includes 12 buildings totaling 2.1 million square feet of building area.

Biewend Building

These prices are from five years ago. I don’t know what the state of the buildings are, but according to the websiBiewend Buildingte I was on, the 14 floors I protected:

“Biewend Building is a 154,528 square foot 14-story medical office building that houses outpatient clinical space servicing a host of specialties including orthopedic and optometric care.  A portion of the street level space at the Biewend Building also serves as the main entrance to the famed Citi Wang Theater.”

The best part of of the Biewend building were the gargoyles on the roof. I think I took a picture of one of them before I left the job for Oregon. It really was a grand old building. Brass. Lots of Brass. Elevators were all brass. There was a brass seat for the elevator “man.” Never even knew that someone could drive an elevator as a job. I had to get a license to operate it with a brass lever. Landing on the floors was the challenge. As the old guys running the elevators were getting to the end of their career, they had an especially hard time landing the elevator so the floors meshed, and people would trip. Sometimes if I couldn’t land the landing, I just would make sure people would took a step up or took a step down.

This is where the games really began. Someone, probably Steve again, though now I’m thinking his last name is Yeoman. I think I nailed it this time. Anyway, Steve showed me that if you take a straightened coat hanger or some sort of metal, you could jerry rig the elevator to take it’s self down to the lobby. You couldn’t use one of the elevators that went to the basement as once it’s stuck down there, there wasn’t anyway that we could get it back up. Sometimes this would happen by accident and someone special had to come in to get the elevator back up.

We started racing. Like a Steeple Chase or whatever those races are when you wind around different obstacles, but in this case we were running between desks and so forth. There were two sets of stairs, the front and the back. We kept track of how quickly we would do our tours. This wasn’t what management was looking for; they wanted me to leisurely stroll for as long as it took.

But because of my using the back stairs, I came across the scariest thing in my life. I was on one of the upper floors when I heard a knock on one of the emergency doors. I stop and look out the door’s window and this mangled face is looking at me. I probably screamed. He wanted me to let him in. Yeah, right. I do stupid things, but it looked like he had bettered me. I radioed for help. Used to know the ten-fours and all of those codes. Turns out the guy had broken up with his girlfriend and thought of visiting China Town and the Red Light District would relieve him of his anguish. Guess he got roughed up rather bad, but was so intoxicated that it took two of my fellow wanna be cops to get the guy cuffed. The sergeant on duty was their with his gun just in case we needed more than pepper spray, though the heavy duty police flashlight worked as a baton, not that I ever had any use of it, but unfortunately those wanna be’s get out of hand. Once the guy sobered off locked up, he came by and apologized to me for scaring me half to death. If I had been following protocol and only using the elevator, I wouldn’t have discovered him.

First blog via email

Saturday, March 21, 201510:54 p.m.
This is how I begin all of my journals and emails. I’ve been doing it for so long, especially the entire date, that I don’t remember why; it helps me when I re-read my journals, which include almost every email ever written to me or by me. Emails add to my page count. I think I hit 300 pages for last February. I’ve been in the hundreds for a while.
I compete with myself, encouraging to have more pages than the year before. This year I have 138 pages in March so far; last year I had only 82 pages. I’ve got an hour to see how much I can add. When I remember to add my blogs, which usually contain pictures, that boosts the page count.
I used to print my journals out. I kept them in 3-ring notebooks so I could add greeting cards and letters, but I stopped printing about five years ago. It was taking too long. After my second printer with the back-to-back capabilities quit on me, I quit printing. I had gone through a time when I would manually print back to back, but if I didn’t do small chunks at a time, some jam up would happen or a page would skip, and then things would go haywire from there. Electronically works for me, though since I wear keyboards out quickly with my pounding fingers every few years or so, my electronic journals are in various location. And some vanish. I’ve got holes that feel rather big when I go look to see what I was doing.
I’m not complaining as I have many years of journaling, starting in 1983, that’s written by hand.
I spent a summer in Cave Junction, living in a little trailer without plumbing or electricity and wrote on a manual typewriter. I had rewind the ink wheels. I really had to bang the keys out of that little thing to get the letters to print. I don’t mind manual typewriters. I learned on a manual. We had just one row of Selectrics when I was in high school, and I never got there early enough to get one. I typically breezed in late. Passing time didn’t allow for enough cigarette breaks.
Tonight’s a night for tangents. I’m having a hard time keeping up with myself. When I started writing, I didn’t think I was going to end up back in my high school’s typing class. I can’t remember the names of the teacher, and I’m too lazy to go get my Year book to see; it doesn’t help that I have a Chocolate Labrador pinning me down…I just noticed that Lucy’s having a happy dream; her tail is swishing all over the place; her snore and tail are almost in sync.

At least that gave me a reason to take a picture. Remember I’ve got some pages to fill. I don’t think I can match February’s total since we’re on the homestretch of the month. I just don’t get a chance to do as much writing when I’m working. I try to plug away at my journal in-between breaks and lunch. I’ve become a recluse when I substitute teach, hiding in the classroom as much as possible. Sometimes there will be multiple teachers in the room, especially sped classes, but I thump away. Most people are too shy to ask me what I’m writing as I always am thumping away about something.
So what was my intention when I began writing. To test out the email feature for one thing, but I won’t know if it works until I stop blabbering about this, that, and Whatever. Who knows, this may become my main way to blog.
I think I have discovered the reason I got into the habit of putting the time down. I worked as a security guard for New England Medical Center in Boston. I would write while working, which was much better than the times I took naps. I knew who had the comfiest couches in the Biewend Building. I slept in some mighty fine offices. When Dialysis replaced the Drug clinic. I can’t remember the name of the drug that people would take that would…Methadone. My memory seems to work that way; if I keep writing about what I’m trying to remember, it often times floats to the surface. I haven’t discovered away to retrieve data while talking to someone. Anyway, at night when everyone was gone and I was working a double or at the end of a sixty hour week with crazy hours, I had to take naps to survive. I’d just make sure my radio was near my ear and I would turn it up nice and loud. Those Dialysis chairs were a blessing; they even had little color televisions. I watched that movie about Vietnam. Apocolypse Now. I’m pretty sure I was under the influence of something that kept me awake. Naps and Speed: Life of a Security Guard. I didn’t last long enough to have the life in that title. I did learn how to drive a manual elevator on the job.
And I got all of this jibber jabber just based on writing the time on this email.
Now let’s see if this experiment is going to work.

If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else. –Chinese Proverb


Two days ago I was substitute teaching at Yujin Gakuen Japanese Immersion school in Eugene. What a wonderful group of fourth graders. Maybe my best group of the school year.me031915

The kids sat criss-cross applesauce around me on the carpet. There wasn’t any room for me to sit on the floor, but the rocking chair suited this body. I would have had to have a lot of help to get this now 55-year-old body off of the floor. And this way, I could see all of the kids as I read them a picture book, Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco. I love reading stories aloud, though I love telling stories just as much. Turns out the kids liked my stories.

Since the story is about an old woman who creates amazing art on eggs, I couldn’t help but think of my God Mother Barbara Clifton. She was one of the sweetest women I had ever met, and I felt blessed that shrodchenkomume was my God Mother. Barbara, which also happens to be the name of the first born sibling in my family. I’ve never asked if my sister was named after Barbara, though I’m thinking that our families hadn’t met yet when my dad decided to build in Weston, Massachusetts.

I told the kids, and this wasn’t the first time I have mentioned her as Barbara Clifton was my inspiration to become a teacher in the first place, an elementary school teacher just like her, that she would find rocks and paint them. The kids were impressed by that, but when I told her that once she had painted a rock into a rabbit that was so life-like, a cat stalked it. This rabbit is one of my prized possessions.bclifton's rock 3-21-15 at 9.04 PM

Come to think about it, my half-day at this school, was all about Barbara Clifton. When I first introduce myself, I use a bird chirp that gets kids enamored. I don’t know if Barbara taught this to me, but she used to talk and chirp to her rocks and stained glass as I sat nearby watching her, totally fascinated by her artistic touch. She could bring the rocks to life because she treated them as such. When I chirp, this is my signal for the kids to quiet down. Every class always asks me how I do it. I don’t know. Sometimes I tell them that I had been a bird in a previous life. I tell them that I had a parakeet fall in love with me once, though I skip the meaning of when a parakeet bobs its head up and down and pecks your beak, or in my case nose. I tell the older kids, middle school kids and above, that I must have been sending mixed signals to Troy the Parakeet. I didn’t realize this until after I brought Wilbur home for her, and that’s all he did; he was not interested in me, but unfortunately, she was only interested in me. I never tell them that part of the story.

For all of the years I have substitute taught, last year was the first year that a first grader asked me if I had swallowed a bird. Does chicken count?


Thursday, March 19, 2015

It’s official: we’re traveling to Europe in May. Switzerland. Germany. England. France had been in the plans, but I elected to spend more time in Germany, my paternal father land.

I don’t travel very often. During my bowling days, I traveled I-5 to the Portland area and to Washington at least once a month, but only for weekends. I travel to Boston every few years or so.

The hardest aspect of the trip is that I’m a homebody. On weekends, vacations, summers, I don’t leave the property very often. I’ve got everything that I need at home. I’ve got my family. My books. My writing. My garden. My plants.

So, taking off for more than three weeks is a bit of an undertaking. Leaving my pack of dogs at home is harder for me than it is for them. The cats will be fine as long as someone is there to feed them, though last year, Yang, my Calico Girl, freaked out and left the house, which she never does, and wouldn’t come in. just a yawnIt took me weeks of coaxing her begging for her to finally come back inside.

I would love to hear about experiences you have had in traveling. I’m so excited, but May seems so far away. I know it will sneak up on me. My goal is to make the best of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before, during, and after.


There have been many times in my life where opportunity comes knocking, even slaps me upside the head, and I don’t even notice. Maybe there’s something wrong with the method of delivery.

Not many days ago, perhaps a week, I posted a picture on Facebook of a door with the message of opportunity. Pretty colorful door. I’ve been trying to teach myself the signs of a knock, what it may look like instead of what it may feel like. I’ve been on the lookout.

A day after my posting, I didn’t get a job that I really thought I wanted. I convinced myself that this round, I would be able to “handle” seventh graders. Everything was great. The majority of the staff and I meshed. I was so excited that I started creating lesson plans for years to come. I had taken the bait I fed myself hook, line and sinker. I really convinced myself that this would be my forever job and I was ready to get a tiger tat to pledge my loyalty. I even got these gumby-like tiger twistable things that were going to make great gadgets for the fidgiters in the class, including myself. When I teach, I have to always have something in my hand. I would have stools planted all over the room as I paced and walked the room.

There was one teaching evaluation I got from a boss that only visited the classroom once a year or sometimes less, and he said that I needed to get away from my desk more. My first pair of boots wore out I did so much walking, and I’m not just talking FTX or parades, but just cruising the classroom. (Cruising isn’t quite the fit, but sometimes Alliteration trumps word choice.)

Anyway, after being told that I wasn’t the  right fit for this small middle school, though there weren’t specifics to justify his choice, except that the guy was a better match, It didn’t take me long to realize how right he was. I should send him a thank you letter. I would have been miserable. I would have been stressed out every day. The days would have been endless. I’m not convinced this is true as my instincts were telling me that once I donned my monkey hat, I had established a working relationship with the kids. for the most of them, I really felt a connection. But, I will admit, that I’m extremely good at flat out lying to myself. I’m so good at faking myself out about what I really want that the sales pitch is unbeatable. Once when I was living in a studio apartment with my partner, I almost bought a set of encyclopedias; it would have taken up half of the apartment. I can be gullible.

Immediately after not getting onto the horrendous roller coaster ride in J.C., I worked with second graders. Three different schools. Talk about ways to heal my heart. I had taken a day off to recharge my batteries after the seventh graders because two days just doesn’t do it anymore. After working with the young uns, I didn’t have to take a day off. I was ready to keep going and not even have a weekend.

This week hasn’t been as smooth. I had another pe opportunity with grade school kids. For the most part, it was a delight. I had so much fun playing and singing with them, but there were a couple of butt heads. Mostly fifth graders who have developed the middle school mentality that I know everything and you don’t know anything. Mostly what was getting me mad was the lack of respect the kids had for each other. I’m still talking only a slight minority of kids. I pointed out the sign of no bullying several times; there was one class that was so horrific, telling others they were stupid or too slow and really convinced that they were only saying words of encouragement. This one girl was in tears after being told by boys that she wasn’t good at basketball. She had never played basketball before, but these two so-close-to-the NBA superstars, had to tell her the truth. After a few of these squabbles, a boy being proud that he could steal a ball away from a younger girl and actually trash talk her. I think my discussion and talk fell on deaf ears. I was shocked.

This blog now takes a radical turn off the beaten path. I’ve been rambling on about opportunities. Today I dropped off my resume to a used and new bookstore in Eugene. I hadn’t realize what  powerful dream this would be. I love teaching, but the ten years have been trying. Getting this job would be such a change for me, a change that’s really important. Prayers. Wishes. Positive Energy. Today I was extremely helpful and friendly to everyone around me. Karma points can’t hurt. One woman thought I was opening the door for her because she was older than I, but I am constantly fighting with men over holding the door for them. Can you relate?

A few days ago, or so, I started reading Elizabeth Engstrom’s book Lizzie Borden. It’s been waiting patiently for me to read for a dozen years. I saw her at the Writer’s Conference last year. I had such a fantastic time. I don’t think I can go this year as I’ve got to save money for a trip to Europe in May. I’m so excited. I’ve never been. Sorry for the whiplash bends in thought direction. This must be my peculiar mode of writing.

The other day a friend of mine told me that my writing was peculiar, at least that’s what her partner said. My friend thought that perhaps I was nervous as I was writing to a published author and I must have felt nervous or apprehensive. Never crossed my mind to feel that way. I still haven’t quite figured out whether being a peculiar writer is good or bad and am trying to decide that it could be a neutral trait or perhaps a comment without judgment of good or bad. That’s a possibility.

I think it’s time to turn to the novel and get ready for tomorrow’s roller coaster ride if a sub job comes my way. Meanwhile, keep those positive vibes humming that I’ll get a job at Tsunami Books in Eugene. I better not have jinxed myself.

I’m in one of those moods

My phone never rings and when it does, I’m being asked some stupid survey or they want my time and money. I’m so tired of this. It doesn’t matter if my number is registered in the don’t call list; organizations like Pacific University fly under the radar. They can call and ask me for money. Earlier I wrote about potential scammers under the guise of a Cancer Support Services group, but they can get away with soliciting. During Election Season, I wish that list I signed up for to protect me from wasting so much of my precious time would keep political groups from hounding me.

I used to enjoy talking on the phone, but now I avoid my phone. Kids always comment on how big of a cell phone I have. I love my Galaxy, but I don’t use it as a phone. It’s great for Facebook, email, and Words with Friends. At home, when the phone rings, I run the other way most of the time. I’ll answer it if I think it’s a job or possibly someone I know, but again the odds of that happening at in the single digit percentile. (Heidee, you are that one percent.)

Today I got a call from a freshman from Pacific. I stated that if he were calling about money that no I can’t give him anything because I’m still paying on my $30,000 loan from my 2004 Masters of Teaching Degree and I’m tired of PU folks hitting me up with my pockets are empty because of them. I simply asked him to take my name off of the list and that he have a great evening. I might have said life. I don’t remember.

I love Pacific University in Eugene. I’ve no clue about the Forest Grove main campus. I am a frequent flyer, and that’s what I told the student when he asked me again for money. Now, I don’t know if this was his doing or that’s how he was he trained and perhaps mandated to push the envelope just a bit more. My request was simple: Don’t ask me for money.

For God’s sake I’m a teacher. I’m “just” a substitute teacher who doesn’t even make enough money in a year to pay that $30,000 loan. If i didn’t have support, I wouldn’t be able to afford my job.  But instead of letting me and my empty wallet alone, Joe the Freshmen, I was asked to donate again, but via email. Different list. Maybe he didn’t quite understand the phrase no and have a great life, which I don’t think I would have said as that sounds mean spirited, though it’s possible. Woken twice from the same nap   doesn’t make me want to sing love songs.

And perhaps this may be seen as mean spirited, but I want to share my correspondence between Mr. Frosh and myself. I had enjoyed writing the letter and thought I’d share it.

Let me know if you think if I am being mean spirited. I don’t think I am, but I’m not always going to see you it even when it’s staring me in the face.

On Feb 24, 2014, at 8:16 PM, wrote:

Dear Susan,

Thank you for speaking with me about Pacific University. I understand not everyone chooses to make a gift at this time, but we are always happy to connect with you.

As you may know, tuition only covers 80% of the total cost of educating a Pacific University student like me. We rely on our alumni, parents and friends to provide the support needed to make up the difference. The more support we receive, the better equipped the University is to provide an excellent educational environment.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to speak with me about Pacific University.

Jayson ‘
Pacific University Student Caller

P.S. If you choose to make a gift in the future, please use our secure online giving page.

Pacific Facebook Pacific Twitter Pacific Flickr Pacific YouTube Pacific Vimeo Pacific LinkedIn Pacific Foursquare Pacific Instagram

This is my response:

I’m confused. Tuition covering 80% of total cost to educate you? What does that mean?

I am a repeat customer of Pacific University. I have chosen Pacific University over the University of Oregon, even though I already have a degree from the UO, and I’ll keep taking classes at Pacific.
It isn’t about not choosing to make a gift to help you out. I paid $30,000 ten years ago for my Masters in Teaching. What has that diploma earned me? I’m a substitute teacher. I am still paying that loan.
I recently added my reading endorsement from Pacific. Seventeen Graduate Level classes at six hundred dollars a credit; one three credit course would be $1800.
Maybe you meant to say that grants or loans or whatnot only pay 80% of your tuition and that it costs a lot more to educate you. But please educate yourself on the notion that my choosing not to donate is a choice is not accurate. Educate yourself on the difference of cost for a undergraduate degree and graduate work.
I do thank you and applaud you for donating your time to work on this campaign. I certainly hope you are donating your time. I’ll be extremely peeved if I learn that you are being paid in work study or any other mode of compensation for your time.
Sincerely yours,
Susan Honthumb

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”   Sylvia Plath

Cancer Support Services. Good cause or scam?

Tonight I was solicited by someone who was saying they were calling from Cancer Support Services. First of all, she called me Mrs., so I knew right off the bat, they didn’t know me. Not a big deal. She said that she wanted to know if my pledge of $15 was to be expected. I had been happing, but when this not-making-enough-to-live-on substitute teacher heard I donated money, I woke up immediately. What? When? She told me January. Really? I have never heard of this organization, and I do donate to the American Cancer Society, though I misspoke and said, I can’t contribute to the American Cancer Society because I keep my money local. She told me again that she was with Cancer Support Services and they provide local people with diapers, and supplies, and what not. I told her that I had never talked to someone about pledging, and she said well someone in your household must have. I think the other person in my household would have used their own name. I hate to be suspicious, but I think there’s a scam going on and if this is true, this is the lowest of lows.

So, my wonderful readers, what do you think?


I’m still on page one of my 1983 journal. I’m a slow reader. Doesn’t help that I’ve been sick with a cold and haven’t been thinking clearly. Yes, I know that this is rather dubious even when I am well.

I celebrated the New Year by working as a security guard in Boston. I don’t know if the midnight to eight shift was my only shift. I had a tendency to take any overtime thrown in my direction. The only shift they would never give me was the Emergency Room as all sorts of wild things tended to happen, and they didn’t think my slight built or inexperience could handle it. I should thank my lucky stars as I probably came close enough to danger in this job as I could have and not gotten my hands dirty. It’s not like I carried a weapon and a radio call for help would not have bought me much time.

As a young 23-year-old, I questioned what my life was going to be like and who was going to be in my life. As I vowed a promise to start writing on a regular basis, I also promised that I would visit and stay in touch with friends.

We all know how that goes. People come into our lives and people go. When I wrote on January 1, 1983, I didn’t know that I was going to be moving to Oregon. There was already a slight geographical distance between my friends Jawa, Trigger. Tank. Stephanie. Peter. Candis.

Peter Büttner God rest your soul. You were a very good man and in integral part of my life.

I am pleased to say that in the short list of people i wanted to make sure I stayed in touch with, Patricia Gagnon is the only one that I’ve lost touch with. I can’t say that I’ve seen these people in the thirty something years that I’ve called Eugene my home. I don’t get back to Boston near enough, but these friends know this. I think they’ve known this for the 37 plus years that I’ve known them. My college buddies.

The other day I was listening to a Mary Oliver interview; she doesn’t give many interviews and was so thrilled when the session was over that she exclaimed, “Free!” Mary talked about how she’s gotten into associating with people more as she gets older. I’d have to say the same for me, but if I had to choose between a dog and a human, the dog would get the thumbs up every time. Cat and human? Cat would get the nod.

I don’t always get humans. Most of the time I don’t. Friendships require a lot of work and the work isn’t always evenly distributed, but friendships are like a teeter-totter, it’s a balancing act. Sometimes holding up my end is necessary. And sometimes asking for others to hold me up is as important. I’m not very good in asking.

This blog has to be short and sweet as I have more Neuro feedback therapy to do today, but this is a good reminder to myself to hold onto the importance of friendships and the importance of the work they require.